CARSON CITY — Assembly Republicans held a town hall meeting Wednesday to bring attention to issues ranging from public pensions to prevailing wages that they said have been given short shrift by their Democratic colleagues this session.
About 60 people attended the meeting, where Assembly Republicans, including Minority Leader Pat Hickey of Reno, Randy Kirner of Reno and Cresent Hardy of Mesquite talked about GOP bills that either had no hearing or did not get votes in committee.
The crowd listened attentively to the presentations, asking a few questions on what legislators acknowledged are complex topics.
In announcing the meeting, Hickey said the GOP proposals would save tax dollars now that could be spent on budget priorities such as education or saved in a rainy day fund to brace for the effects of sequestration and the new federal health care law.
The meeting came on the same day Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, introduced a bill to impose an 8 percent tax on nearly all forms of entertainment, including movie theater tickets and gym memberships.
Hickey has said that if Democrats want the GOP to consider proposals to raise revenues, “they will have to consider our measures (reforms) in order to save taxpayer dollars.”
GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval has said he does not support new taxes, meaning any tax proposal from Democrats will need a two-thirds vote in both the Assembly and Senate to pass. Democrats do not have a two-thirds majority in either house.
If Democrats won’t consider GOP measures to save money, their tax proposals are dead on arrival, Hickey said.
Kirner talked about his Public Employees’ Retirement System Preservation Act, which proposed changes to the public employee pension program for new hires.
Kirner said he requested Assembly Bill 342 to start to get a handle on a long-term unfunded liability of the state Public Employees Retirement System that hit $11.2 billion as of June 30. The unfunded liability has grown by $1.2 billion over the past two years.
But the bill, which would have created a hybrid pension plan to reduce future government agency liabilities, did not get a hearing in the Assembly, where Democrats have a 27-15 majority.
Hardy talked about his Assembly Bill 318 to make changes to the prevailing wage law. His bill proposed to lift the project threshold on public works projects in which the prevailing wage must be paid from $100,000 to $1.5 million. The $100,000 threshold was set in 1985.
The bill had a hearing but did not get a vote by a deadline for committee action on bills.
Other unsuccessful bills would have exempted school and university construction projects from the prevailing wage.
Prevailing wages, or the pay workers receive on public projects, are determined through a survey of labor pay in an area by the state labor commissioner. Often, however, the pay comes close to what unions pay, in part because most surveys are not returned.
Other GOP proposals, including changes to the state’s home construction defect law, have not progressed either, although Assembly Bill 184 by Assemblyman Wes Duncan, R-Las Vegas, remains alive in the Assembly.
Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who saw his own defects bill die, has said he will continue to fight to get changes to the law this session.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.